At least one in eight teens, and perhaps one in five, have a mental-health issue; ADHD tops, substance abuse also high

The most comprehensive report yet on mental disorders in children shows attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed problem in those aged 3-17, and the most common health issues for teenagers include addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

An estimated 13 to 20 percent of U.S. children experience a mental disorder in a given year, says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and children are increasingly suffering from and being hospitalized for mood disorders like depression; that hospitalization rate has increased 80 percent from 1997 to 2010, says the report. And, while 3.5 percent of children under 18 have
behavioral problems, almost 7 percent of them are diagnosed with ADHD.

About 4.7 percent of teens, or 1.7 million children aged 12–17, have disorders involving abuse and dependence upon alcohol, drugs or tobacco, says the report. Alarmingly, two-thirds of teenagers had an illicit drug use disorder, one million teenagers abused drugs or alcohol, and more than 695,000 were addicted to tobacco.

“This first report of its kind documents that millions of children are living with depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and other mental health conditions,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. “No parent, grandparent, teacher or friend wants to see a child struggle with these issues. It concerns us all. We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders and help scale up programs and strategies to prevent mental illness so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”

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